He had no inclination to say anything. He was lost deep within his own mind, never hearing her words until she ran her hand up his back, smoothing his shirt with gentle strokes. He’d hated that look on her face almost as much as the suspicious one on Hetty’s. That inscrutable woman didn’t believe him. He knew she wouldn’t. But, she knew most of his secrets. He was sure of that too. Some. But, not all.
It had been the look in Kensi’s eyes that had shaken him. He wasn’t sure what he saw, but it wasn’t confidence in his answer to Hetty’s question. Now his mind was searching. And he needed to be alone to do that. No distractions. No Kensi with those deep questions behind her eyes.
“Remember when you asked for a little personal space?” He finally asked without much energy.
“Of course, but Deeks…”
“I need to be by myself for a while. Can you do that for me?”
“Why are you pushing me away?” She asked, the edge in her voice unsurprising. “You said nothing would tear us apart.”
“I’m just asking for some time alone,” he replied softly. “I’m not running, Kens. I just need to think.”
He could hear the hurt in that one spoken word and those dark eyes held more suspicion than he would have liked, but dammit, he couldn’t think straight with her so close. His urge to protect her from his secrets was almost overwhelming, but she wouldn’t understand why he kept them. He knew she had her own, but that didn’t bother him.
The last few months had been a whirlwind of emotion, full of unbelievable joy for him. They had given no thought to anything but being together, surrendering to every need and desire they had resisted for so very long. Once they committed, they hadn’t thought about the future or the past or even the consequences of their actions. Callen had been right. He had known the risks. They both had, but when they’d finally given in to their passion it had exploded, pushing all the negatives and rational thought out of their heads. It had been a wonderful feeling. Damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead. That thought made him smile and realize he’d been around Navy people far too long. But that is what they’d both done and now reality had reared its ugly head, threatening to blow them out of the water.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he promised as he turned back toward his truck.
“I’m here for you. You know that right?” Her voice small, making her sound so vulnerable that he almost turned back to crush her in his arms.
“I know Kens. I know.”
He was feeling vulnerable too, so he resisted the urge to comfort her and quickly got in the truck, roaring away with the last drop of energy he had, expressing his simmering anger with squealing tires and tempting fate by running red lights. He slowed as he dropped down onto the Pacific Coast Highway heading for the beach where he usually worked out his demons. He wondered if those demons had finally caught up with him. He’d told her he wasn’t running, but now he wondered. Maybe he was, just not from her.
He parked in the dimly lit lot and took off his shoes and socks, rolling up his pant legs before heading out across the sand. There was a scattering of people and a few couples snuggling under blankets even though it was unseasonably warm. He headed toward the upper end of the beach, which was almost empty, the rushing waves close to the cliff, drowning out any intrusive voices that might distract him. When the tail end of a wave slopped over his bare feet, he stopped. Then it hit him. The inevitable sadness. The feeling that the last shoe he’d been waiting for had finally dropped, and a feeling of dread was now crushing all the joy he’d been filled with since Mammoth.
They’d been living in a dream world and now their perfect little world was threatened. Threatened by something he’d somehow caused or let happen. He didn’t know specifically why they were after him, and it really didn’t matter. They just were. His mind tumbled with possibilities. But he wasn’t dirty. They had to know that. Didn’t they? Was he being framed, or had he skated too close to the line while undercover and now it was coming back to haunt him? There were people he’d taken down that still had it out for him, but those people would have come at him head on. That’s the one thing about the bad guys he liked. Nothing subtle about them. You knew who you were dealing with and if they had a problem with you, you knew it.
He should have known it wouldn’t last. Him in a perfect world, with the perfect woman. Finally happy. How could that be his destiny? That’s what had struck him when Hetty told him Internal Affairs was after him. The kind of pure happiness he’d been experiencing wasn’t meant to be. Not for him. Never for him. But he had hoped.
He cloaked himself in outward happiness every day. He’d learned to do that early on. No one questioned someone who smiled all the time. No one suspected they even had secrets, especially dark ones. At least normal people didn’t. But he wasn’t surrounded by normal people now. He was working with men and women who had more secrets than he could possibly dream of and they knew how to keep them. The thing was, they automatically assumed you had secrets too. They let you hold on to yours as long as those secrets didn’t disrupt or interfere with the job.
All he felt now was resignation. His secrets and his mistakes would be dragged from the shadows into the light for all to see and judge. How deeply would they delve into his past? How many old secrets did they need to build a case? Who would stand by him when they were exposed? Who could he count on? Would Hetty really fight to protect both of them, or was he expendable?
He dropped his head, weary beyond words, but heartened that she had come to find him. When he turned to face her in the deepening twilight, she was holding herself as if she were cold. Her dark eyes were shimmering with held back tears, the questions gone.
“I won’t let you do this alone,” she said softly. “That’s what ‘all in’ means, Deeks.”
“So more than just sexy times then?” He wondered aloud.
“That’s not the only thing I love you for,” she said as she reached for him.
“They’re pretty damn good though.”
“You are a sex machine,” giving him that perfect smile he had missed so much today.
“Lean and mean too,” he said as he turned to stare out at the retreating waves. “That’s what I have to be now.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling him to her, her warmth comforting in his cheerless state.
“We’ll beat this together,” she whispered into his shoulder.
“I hope you’re right,” he sighed.
“Do you know what they have?” She asked as she came around to face him.
“You think I lied to Hetty,” His words a statement, hers leaving him feeling hollow.
“I think you want to protect yourself, and that’s not a bad idea when you’re dealing with Hetty.”
“You think she lied to me?”
“It’s Hetty. She usually has her own agenda,” Kensi warned. “LAPD probably isn’t the only agency looking into this.”
“She’s running her own investigation,” he said, his resignation deepening. “Great. And Granger hasn’t even gotten involved yet.”
“She might not tell him,” Kensi said. “She said she’d try to protect us.”
“I don’t want you hurt by this,” he said fiercely. “It’s my problem. Not yours.”
“Didn’t you hear me Deeks? I’m in this whether you want me to be or not,” she said, stepping closer and taking his hands in hers. “You don’t get to make that choice for me.”
“Well, I have no choice,” he said angrily, breaking free of her. “With IA and NCIS on my tail my life is under a microscope. All of it, and some parts weren’t all that attractive.”
“Something else is bothering you,” she stated. “That look on your face tonight…I can’t get it out of my mind.”
Deeks stood solemnly shaking his head, unable to keep the disappointment from his face, just as he couldn’t earlier.
“I feel betrayed, Kens. I’ve been completely loyal to the LAPD,” he said quietly. “I’m a cop. A good one. And now I feel like my years of service didn’t mean a thing. They’re pushing me out in the cold, Kens. Alone.”
“You’re not alone,” she said reaching for him once again. “I won’t be the only one in your corner. Don’t you know that?”
“We’re all your friends, Deeks. Sam and Callen are your brothers in arms,” she said stridently. “Count on us. Especially me.”
“Promise you won’t punch the nice lady from IA,” he said with a hint of a smile. “I’m in enough trouble already.”
“Can’t do that.”
“She was arrogant, and she made me mad,” Kensi replied, pouting as her eyes flashed. “I don’t like her.”
“I don’t think the fine men and women of Internal Affairs want to be liked,” he responded, the banter reviving his spirits.
She suddenly pulled him into a fierce embrace, holding him tightly for a long time. He buried his head in her hair, wondering how he had gotten so lucky.
“You’re tough, Deeks,” she whispered against his cheek. “I’m tough. Our team’s tough and we take care of our own.”
“You’re starting to sound like Sam,” he said, leaning back to look at her.
“He owes you Deeks,” she reminded him. “And none of us will let you go down without a fight.”
“Sunshine and gunpowder,” he whispered in her ear. “That’s my girl.”
“Let ’em come.”